MSAA History


  • June 8, 1970, the Multiple Sclerosis Association is founded locally as a grassroots, nonprofit organization in Southern New Jersey to provide free services and support to people with MS and their families.
  • Programs focus on peer-to-peer support, information and referral services, plus advocacy for individuals with a disability.
  • The Equipment Distribution Program is one of our first programs, providing vital safety and mobility products, such as grab bars, walkers, and wheelchairs.



  • The Multiple Sclerosis Association adds “of America” to its name, expanding its personalized, patient-care approach to the MS community throughout all 50 states.
  • The first MRI scan of the brain is performed, prompting MSAA to create an urgently needed program to assist people with funding MRIs to help diagnose MS and evaluate disease activity.
  • Educational resources and support are provided on a much-larger scale.



  • MSAA pioneers the scientific research of cooling technology for MS symptom management. Partnering with NASA engineers and researchers at several top MS centers, results from MSAA-funded studies prove the beneficial effects of temporarily cooling the body for people with MS.
  • MSAA’s Cooling Distribution Program begins, providing cooling vests and accessories to people with MS, helping to reduce symptoms and alleviate the effects of heat sensitivity.
  • The MRI Diagnostic Fund is launched, giving greater access and financial support to people in need of an MRI to diagnose MS.
  • With the assistance of top MS specialists and neurologists, MSAA publishes two extensive, full-color, volumes on the MS process and symptom management – information in a reader-friendly format not previously available to the MS community.
  • MSAA’s first user-friendly website is developed, delivering vital information, resources, and support to the MS community, in the safety and convenience of people’s homes.



  • In-person educational programs are expanded across the country, offering members of the MS community opportunities to connect and learn about the latest MS information from leading healthcare professionals.
  • MSAA establishes our Healthcare Advisory Council (HAC), which includes leading members of the MS healthcare professional community and helps to advise MSAA on programmatic initiatives.
  • The MRI program is further expanded, now called the MRI Access Fund, providing financial assistance for MRIs to more than 1,000 people each year to diagnose or monitor progression of one’s MS.
  • Our online video library is launched, giving the opportunity to learn about topics – from symptom management to wellness strategies and much more – right from the comfort of one’s home.
  • In 2008, MSAA creates our signature national fundraising initiative – Swim for MS, encouraging participants to create their own swim challenge to support MSAA’s free programs and services. With the tagline, “Any Pool, Any Time,” participants select their swim activity, set a challenge goal, and recruit family and friends to donate to MSAA.



  • My MS Manager mobile app is created – a convenient and innovative tool to help people with MS effectively manage their MS and share information with their healthcare team.
  • MSAA’s Art Showcase is developed, featuring inspirational artwork created by people with MS. Each year, in conjunction with MS Awareness Month in March, a new Showcase is presented on MSAA’s website and highlights the amazing artwork and biographies from the artists.
  • MSAA expands its reach on multiple communication platforms including social media, the initiation of our MS Conversations blog, podcast, and our My MSAA Community peer-to-peer forum, offering the MS community multiple channels to access our resources and connect with others.
  • Our African American Advisory Board and Hispanic Latinx Advisory Board are established to identify unmet needs and develop comprehensive and innovative programmatic and educational initiatives to address those needs. Both of these Boards, along with MSAA’s Board of Directors and Healthcare Advisory Council, continue to guide MSAA in our strategic focus areas.


2020… and beyond

  • MSAA recognizes our 50th anniversary in 2020, a challenging time for the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to address needs from the MS community during this time, several initiatives are developed, including COVID-19 webinars and innovative digital resources.
  • MSAA expands upon our vast array of educational resources including webinars, videos, and award-winning publications, including MSAA’s national magazine, The Motivator.
  • MSAA took a deeper dive into our Art Showcase and launched its signature virtual fundraising event – Improving Lives Through Art®. These events feature artists living with MS, and allow participants to follow along and recreate works of art. Participants have applauded the events for creating a safe and enjoyable experience for members of the MSAA family to connect at a time when they were feeling increasingly isolated due to the pandemic.
  • In 2022, MSAA launches the Ultimate MS Treatment Guide, a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, and interactive tool to help people with multiple sclerosis learn about the different FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies.
  • MSAA continues to expand our core programs, as well as develop new initiatives, while furthering our mission to Improve Lives Today for the entire MS community.


Your support allows MSAA to provide our vital free programs and services to people with MS and their care partners. Please continue to Improve Lives Today for the MS community.